Responding to Recession..(Obama less progressive than Clinton and Edwards)

Here is Krugman's piece on the various stimulus packages of the candidates running for president.  I have made some edits to cut out talk of the republicans and also to allow for fair use.  

The conclusion is that Obama really is less progressive than the others when it comes to domestic policy.
My opinion is that a lot of people on line are fooling themselves.  Obama is the black Joe Lieberman but in a much more attractive package... and one who speaks without whining. That's my opinion, take it or leave it.  It's not going to change.

By Paul Krugman
Published: January 14, 2008

Suddenly, the economic consensus seems to be that the implosion of the housing market will indeed push the U.S. economy into a recession, and that it's quite possible that we're already in one. As a result, over the next few weeks we'll be hearing a lot about plans for economic stimulus.

Since this is an election year, the debate over how to stimulate the economy is inevitably tied up with politics. And here's a modest suggestion for political reporters. Instead of trying to divine the candidates' characters by scrutinizing their tone of voice and facial expressions, why not pay attention to what they say about economic policy?

In fact, recent statements by the candidates and their surrogates about the economy are quite revealing.


On the Democratic side, John Edwards, although never the front-runner, has been driving his party's policy agenda. He's done it again on economic stimulus: last month, before the economic consensus turned as negative as it now has, he proposed a stimulus package including aid to unemployed workers, aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, public investment in alternative energy, and other measures.

Last week Hillary Clinton offered a broadly similar but somewhat larger proposal. (It also includes aid to families having trouble paying heating bills, which seems like a clever way to put cash in the hands of people likely to spend it.) The Edwards and Clinton proposals both contain provisions for bigger stimulus if the economy worsens.

And you have to say that Mrs. Clinton seems comfortable with and knowledgeable about economic policy. I'm sure the Hillary-haters will find some reason that's a bad thing, but there's something to be said for presidents who know what they're talking about.

The Obama campaign's initial response to the latest wave of bad economic news was, I'm sorry to say, disreputable: Mr. Obama's top economic adviser claimed that the long-term tax-cut plan the candidate announced months ago is just what we need to keep the slump from "morphing into a drastic decline in consumer spending." Hmm: claiming that the candidate is all-seeing, and that a tax cut originally proposed for other reasons is also a recession-fighting measure -- doesn't that sound familiar?

Anyway, on Sunday Mr. Obama came out with a real stimulus plan. As was the case with his health care plan, which fell short of universal coverage, his stimulus proposal is similar to those of the other Democratic candidates, but tilted to the right.

For example, the Obama plan appears to contain none of the alternative energy initiatives that are in both the Edwards and Clinton proposals, and emphasizes across-the-board tax cuts over both aid to the hardest-hit families and help for state and local governments. I know that Mr. Obama's supporters hate to hear this, but he really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy.

In short, the stimulus debate offers a pretty good portrait of the men and woman who would be president. And I haven't said a word about their hairstyles.

Krugman is also making the point that Clinton knows what she is talking about and that is quite a compliment coming from him.  The bold print is mine.  
I wanted to make a strong point of that paragraph because being a policy wonk and knowing what she is talking about has always been one of the things I like about Clinton.  It has always been one of the things I like about Gore too.  In that area they are very similar.  That can not be denied.

I also happen to think they are both honest, very kind and caring people who really do care about making America and the world a better place.

Here is the link to the Krugman article.  You may have to sign in.  It's free.

(Ps... I encourage someone to take this topic and do a diary at dkos... or reprint this with my permission and your own commentary)

Tags: Barack Obama, campaign 2008, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Paul Krugman (all tags)



Responding to Recession

Just like the war:

Obama was against an economic stimulus plan before he was for one.

The fairy tail is the idea that Mr. Obama would ever take a stand stronger than "present" on an important issue.

by hwc 2008-01-14 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Read the FACTS about where Obama stood on the war rather then LISTENING to the Clinton campaign lies.

by coonbug 2008-01-14 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

the Clinton campaign is giving the facts.  obama didn't oppose the war "all along".  But the point is the hypocrisy he is showing on the subject.

Now lets talk about the topic at hand... the economy.

by MollieBradford 2008-01-14 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

No, no, no watch Senator 'Hopeless' insert and then try and remove foot from mouth: 11/just-in-case-you-wanted-to-see-what-s enators-tears-for-fears-and-all-hat-no-c attle-are-saying/

Flip-Flop much do ya? Oh...oh...Oh! I remember now....this is the famous 'nuance'.

McCain will make hamburger out of this fool. Which fool? Take yer pick.

by Pericles 2008-01-14 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Your war reference is ridiculous.  You're supporting the most hawkish presidential candidate and criticizing the only candidate running who was right on the war.  Pretty sad and truly Rovian in nature.  Nice paraphrase of GOP talking points against Kerry though.  You should be proud.  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 05:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

It is the hypocrisy.  And while you may not believe Clinton's explanation for her vote on the IWR I do and always did.  I thought she was wrong to put any trust in Bush at all.  But I believe she was sincere and that her opinion was colored by her time in the white house.  She may also have done the CORRECT thing (something the haters can't ever admit) and bush just betrayed all of us.  

As far as K-L vote, please do not play stupid anymore.  It was a toothless bit of legislation which as further eroded by the legislation Clinton and Webb got passed which requires bush to go to congress before attacking Iran.

So enough with the bullshit semantics.  Clinton is no more a hawk that Edwards or Obama.  

Can you address the topic at hand or are you going to continue to spew internet koolaide drunken lunacy about Clinton?

by MollieBradford 2008-01-14 06:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

First, I didn't bring up K-L.  Defensive much?  Second, the argument that Obama has been anything less than consistent of Iraq is ridiculous.  One quote, pulled out of context, doesn't change that and it's typical and cynical politics for Hillary's campaign to pretend otherwise.  I mean, comeone.  She's going to argue that funding the war means you're not against the war?  She's done the same thing -- so by that logic she also doesn't want to end the war.  That's just stupid.  

As to the economic stimulus plans, I'll do something crazy and say that I have no idea whose plan is the most "progressive" or the best.  Because I haven't read them.  Have you?  

If so, and only if so, help explain to me why the inclusion of a alt energy plan in an economic stimulus bill makes it better.  If you convince me, I'll send Obama a letter suggesting he make a change in his proposal.  Absent that, however, the summaries of the plans released by Edwards, Clinton, and Obama seem indistinguishable to me.  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 06:07AM | 0 recs
I thought it would be good

to get back to the real issues for a brief moment.

by MollieBradford 2008-01-14 05:34AM | 0 recs
Krugman hearts Hillary

Try making up your own mind sometimes. Here is an unbiased description of the plans.

The proposal, released today as Obama campaigns in Nevada, includes an immediate $250 tax cut for most Americans, an extra $250 Social Security payment for low-income senior citizens and $10 billion to help people facing home foreclosures.

Along with the immediate tax cut and Social Security payments, Obama's plan would provide $10 billion to help state and local governments avoid cutting services because of budget shortfalls and spend $10 billion to extend benefits for unemployed workers.

Krugman describes Obama's tax cut as 'across the board' when it is only for people $75K and under. And why does having an "alternative energy initiative" in a stimulus package more progressive?

Oh and Obama's is actually $5B bigger then Hillary's.

It's a shame...Krugman is becoming a political hack.

by JoeCoaster 2008-01-14 05:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

no Krugman doesn't heart Hillary, he hearts Edwards.   And I don't think I will trust Bloomberg in favor of Krugman thank you very much.

As far as your little insult.. Kiss my ass Joe.

by MollieBradford 2008-01-14 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Ok, sorry bout that. I've been hanging out at too many Seymour diaries.

by JoeCoaster 2008-01-14 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Sad to see this guy, who I respect, try to fracture the Democratic Party.

Judging by some of the headlines the last couple of weeks, I have a feeling this maybe a very dangerous primary for the Party.  

by highgrade 2008-01-14 05:51AM | 0 recs
Krugman injects reality. Unfortunately...

the Obama fans have as much taste for reality as GWB when it comes to discussing their hero. I regard Krugman as "the" liberal and progressive economist. The Obama fans are free to prefer some journalist at Bloomberg if they prefer but I'll stick with Krugman.    

by ottovbvs 2008-01-14 05:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman injects reality. Unfortunately...

Kugman used to work for the Reagan administration so how progressive can he be?

by greenboy 2008-01-14 06:09AM | 0 recs
Krugman was missing

any details to backup his assertions so I had to look else where. Google likes Bloomberg.

by JoeCoaster 2008-01-14 06:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Seriously?  "Why is it more progressive to have an alternative energy initiative?"

As I've noted previously, Obama supporters have this way of defining "progressive" to mean whatever Barack Obama happens to be for.

Obama's plan doesn't have an alternative energy initiative, and therefore, golly gee, all of a sudden alternative energy initiatives don't look progressive any more.  As a wise man once said, "try making up your own mind sometimes."

by Steve M 2008-01-14 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

If the point of the bill is economic stimulus, I'm not sure why an alt energy plan is the metric we're using to measure how progressive the stimulus package is.  Maybe there is a reason -- I honestly don't know -- but the Krugman article cited doesn't make the argument.  It just states a fact without any clear supporting evidence.  

I haven't read the details of any of the candidates plans, but on the surface they look damn near indistinguishable to me.  This diary tells me nothing about why Clinton's is better.  Hell, maybe it is.  But questioning why the distinguishing factor cited is of the utmost importance isn't off limits merely b/c someone supports Obama.  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 06:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

If you're going to create jobs as part of a stimulus package, creating them in the alternative energy sector is about as progressive as it gets.  I confess I'm mystified by your comment; supporting alternative energy is obviously progressive, so why would it be any less progressive as part of an economic stimulus plan?  The very thing we should expect from Democrats is to address the nation's problems while furthering progressive values.

As usual, Edwards was way ahead of the curve in rolling out his plan, which also includes a significant alternative energy component.  It's another example of how he's been driving the debate in this campaign, for the benefit of the progressive movement.

by Steve M 2008-01-14 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Steve, I believe Obama includes this kind of investment in other proposals that he released earlier in the campaign. In fact, this usually finds its way into his stump speech. JoeCoaster has a link below, I believe.

What some of us are wondering is why this should be in a stimulus package, given the more temporary and immediate goals of such a plan.

by DPW 2008-01-14 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

That's exactly my point.  There's tons of good, progressive stuff that we ought to be doing.  Investing in alt-energy is something that should be a priority.  If the point is to boost the economy through a short term stimulus package, however, I'm not sure why the inclusion or omission of al-energy language should be emphasized.

Again, maybe it should be and I'm missing something.  But that seems like a pretty arbitrary critique to me.  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

There's no reason we can't create jobs in the alternative energy sector right this second.  It doesn't have to be the sort of long-term research project you're thinking of.  Look at the Edwards and Clinton plans for examples of how alternative energy can benefit our economy within the next couple months.

by Steve M 2008-01-14 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

I agree with you, Steve.  This idea that alternative-energy initiatives and the immediate creation of jobs in that sector is not feasible, that it can only be long-term and "10 yrs. down the road" is only brought up here because Krugman mentions it as an Obama failure.

If you look at Hillary's comments on the subject, you understand why it is included in the stimulus package, not just as a long-term policy goal: m/usa_politics_clinton_environment_dc

The New York senator and former first lady has made fighting climate change and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil a big issue in her campaign for the White House.

Investing in renewable energy technology, such as solar or wind power, is one way to achieve both goals.

"Take Germany," Clinton told supporters near Los Angeles on Friday. "They have put nearly 300,000 people to work in a much smaller economy installing solar panels."

She said the United States could create tens of thousands of "green-collar" jobs by doing the same thing, boosting the economy and protecting the environment at the same time.

"These renewable energy jobs are high-wage jobs that cannot be outsourced," she said to applause. "Other countries are ahead of us. But that doesn't mean anything because we can catch up in a hurry if we put our minds to it."


by georgep 2008-01-14 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Who the hell said that developing green-energy jobs can only be done "10 years down the road"? What were are wondering is whether the failure to include such initiatives in a stimulus package constitutes some kind of progressive failure. Because I understand such packages to be designed to address specific economic circumstances, I'm hesitant to criticize a candidate for failure to include measures that won't likely be realized for at least 6 months (if you take into consideration the entire political process and other considerations that will delay implementation.) By that time, we don't even know what the economic circumstances will be. I have no problem with (in fact, I encourage) investment in green-energy economies, however my conception of a stimulus package consists in a policy that narrowly tailored to address specific, temporary economic factors that are contributing to recession.

by DPW 2008-01-14 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Krugman should have to explain how having an 'alternative enery initiative' in an stimulus package make it more progressive. Unless being more green is de facto more progressive. I don't see it.  

by JoeCoaster 2008-01-14 06:13AM | 0 recs
Alternative Engery

is a long term problem that Obama  address in his long term engery plan not a short term stimulus package.

Obama's Engery Plan

Invest $150 Billion over 10 Years in Clean Energy: Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale renewable energy, invest in low-emissions coal plants, and begin the transition to a new digital electricity grid. A principal focus of this fund will be devoted to ensuring that technologies that are developed in the U.S. are rapidly commercialized in the U.S. and deployed around the globe.

by JoeCoaster 2008-01-14 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Of course it's more progressive!  Building the American economy of the future around the alternative energy sector is straight out of the Al Gore playbook.

I'm honestly confused about how promoting alternative energy solutions could be regarded as anything other than progressive.

by Steve M 2008-01-14 06:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Yes alt-energy is both progressive and good.  The question, and it really is a question, is why it is key to include such a plan as part of a short-term economic stimulus package.  If there's a compelling reason, I'm all ears.  Otherwise, Obama's proposed comprehensive energy plan already shares the goal you're talking about.  Since NONE of these plans is actually going to get passed, I fail to see how not including it in this particular proposal is of particular importance.  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

If Krugman was honest he would have hit Hillary's plan for including something that won't help the economy for over a year.

by JoeCoaster 2008-01-14 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

What are you referring to?

by Steve M 2008-01-14 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

What are we talking about... Hillary's 'alternative energy initiative'. She just lumped a item in her long term ecomonic plan into the stimulus package. It's still long term.

Accelerating $5 billion in energy efficiency and alternative energy investments to jumpstart green collar job growth:

by JoeCoaster 2008-01-14 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman hearts Hillary

Well, as Larry Craig might have said, let's take a look at what comes after the colon.

Accelerating $5 billion in energy efficiency and alternative energy investments to jumpstart green collar job growth: Senator Clinton believes that by immediately implementing components of her comprehensive plan to transition to a green, clean economy, we can both jumpstart green collar jobs and jumpstart our long-term transition to energy independence as well. The immediate actions that could be part of a 2008 stimulus could include a crash weatherization program to cut home energy costs by up to 20% this winter; expanded tax credits to encourage families and businesses to accelerate purchases of hybrids and other low emission vehicles and to reduce energy costs by purchasing efficient appliances, new windows and other clean, efficient technologies, and acceleration of a Green Building Fund and Green Collar Job training program to put tens of thousands of people to work making schools and other public buildings energy efficient.

It seems clear to me that components of this plan, most notably the crash weatherization program, are certainly short-term ideas.

by Steve M 2008-01-14 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Obama fans do not HATE Hillary and Bill.  Most of them (that I know) supported Bill through out his 2 terms in office and afterwards, when ever the GOP would try to tarnish his admin's reputation.

Obama fans just want a fresh start.  New ideas.  We've had enough of a TWO FAMILY DYNASTY of our nation.  The Bush family and the Clinton family have ran our nation for over 20 years now.  It's time we wake up to the possibility that they just might be other people that can run our nation and do it safely....without demanding power.

I also use to like Krugman, but during this campaign he's done nothing but attack Obama.  I don't know what his beef is - but he needs to get over it and join the PARTY again.

Coonsey's View

by coonbug 2008-01-14 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

I reject this argument due to the fact that if they were really against any kind of two family rule they would be supporting Edwards. He really is the anti Hillary but I just don't understand why the Obama cultists don't see it.

Seems like Obama's support comes from emotion not reason. His economic agenda is from the Univ. of Chicago school which is hardly known for it's liberal economics. It is not liberal it is libertarian. And that's fine if that's what you want.

by Ga6thDem 2008-01-14 06:54AM | 0 recs
Krugman's not objective

The National Journal (the gold standard of political rankings) ranked Obama as the most progressive person running for president based on voting record.  Krugman just hates him so he can't be expected to be objective.

by greenboy 2008-01-14 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman's not objective

Obama is ranked basically as a non-progressive with progressivepunch and also govtrack, ranked closer to the centrist/moderate wing of the party.  Krugman is right on.  

by georgep 2008-01-14 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman's not objective

Progressive punch and govtrack are not credible sources.  The National Journal is.  Krugman himself used to work for Reagan so I'm not sure how progressive he really is and I wonder what his true motive for hating Obama is.

by greenboy 2008-01-14 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman's not objective

Krugman is progressive and someone to be admired.  I have disagreed with his take on Obama of late, but such disagreements should not serve as an excuse to slam his progressive credentials.  He's no infallable, but he's properly held in high regard.  So please don't go there.  It's counterproductive.  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman's not objective

Nice.  Bash as "not credible" for no other reason but that Obama does not come out as good in that analysis.  

On progressivepunch you can look at every vote Obama has cast (and the importance weight PP gives to the non-progressive votes for its ranking.)  It is all there for you to see, vote by vote.  If you take the time and look at the votes that have led to the ranking he currently occupies, you'll probably see things differently.

I want to reiterate that Obama was definitely progressive in his very first year, but since then he has fallen dramatically off.  It appears that he believes that positioning himself closer to the center with his votes and having b-partisan, post-partisan rhetoric to match helps him in a potential GE season.   He may be right, but that does not mean that progressives should not have a beef with it, regardless.  

by georgep 2008-01-14 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Krugman's not objective

I just watched a recent interview with Paul Krugman on Charlie Rose and he said Hillary is the most right-wing democrat, and he said Bill Clinton stopped being a progressive after his first 2 years in office so if I were a Hillary supporter, I'd be reluctant to sing his praises too loudly.  

Progressive rankings are a dime a dozen.  I could start a web page and create one myself.  That's why it's important to use reliable sources, and the National Journal is very well thought out, and has been the gold standard for years.  They divide votes into three broad areas: Foreign policy, Economic issues, and social issues.  Obama has the most left-wing record overall based on life-time votes, even ahead of Kucinich.  Hillary is progressive on social issues, less so on economic issues, and especially not on foreign policy issues as we all know.  Foreign policy is by far the most important, except for the nationalistic U.S. centric types who only care about domestic issues, the hell with the rest of the world.

by greenboy 2008-01-14 08:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession..(Obama less progressi

Since I just took the time to look over the candidates' plans in more detail, I'll provide the links as a public service.

Edwards: here

Clinton: here

Obama: here

I've listed them in chronological order of when they were proposed, which is a sneaky way of putting Edwards first, but also an illustration of the fact that he's leading on yet another important issue.

by Steve M 2008-01-14 06:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession..(Obama less progressi
thanks for the links Steve.  I am not so sure Edwards is leading here.  He and Hillary both seem to have good plans and hers is more detailed.  
but either one is a vast improvement over Obama who is not and never has been more progressive than the other two on this or a lot of other issues.
by MollieBradford 2008-01-14 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession..(Obama less progressi

Well, I try not to deploy the "Hillary is copying Edwards" talking point as I see that more as shit-slinging than as a constructive discussion.

I do think Hillary is pretty much indifferent as to whether her plan is similar to something Edwards already has on the table.  Her attitude seems to be that there's no reason to reject a good idea just because someone else said it first.  Frankly, I'm not even sure I could tell you the difference in their health care plans.

Obama seems more inclined to create a difference for the sake of creating a difference, although it may be only the policy wonks who see things in this level of detail.  And I agree with Krugman that the differences, minor though they may be, always seem to veer more towards the conservative end of the spectrum.  The emphasis on tax cuts over direct government action is just another example.

There's nothing evil about Obama's stimulus plan, nor am I suggesting that it looks anything like what the Republicans would give us, but it does seem like he's always running more towards the center when it comes to policy specifics.  If it takes someone with the smarts of Paul Krugman to note this, maybe it's of no moment in terms of winning the Democratic primary, but it does lend support to the concerns that he might do a lot of governing from the center.

by Steve M 2008-01-14 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: not so fast

Robert Reich again disagrees with Krugman: we-need-stimulus-now-but-what-kind.html

Not that you should just nod your head in agreement with either of these guys. What I don't get is why a stimulus package should include long-term items like an alternative energy intiative. A stimulus package is typically understood to be a targeted short-term proposal. Krugman seems to be looking for something beyond the scope of a stimulus package. Obama's top economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, said something along the same lines:

"The primary difference between the Obama approach and the Clinton approach is that if you are going to have fiscal stimulus," said Austan Goolsbee, the Obama campaign's top economic-policy adviser, "the absolutely most imperative thing is to get the money into people's hand immediately so they can use it and prevent the slowdown." Several pieces of Clinton's plan, including the home-heating subsidy, wouldn't reach people for up to a year, Goolsbee said. "Anything like that is not a stimulus."

I also feel compelled to add that I find it aggrevating that Krugman just concludes that Obama's policy is less progressive based upon some undisclosed standard or definition of progressivism. We're just supposed to assume that he has our same progressive ideals/principles in mind and that he has consulted these ideals/principles faithfully and infallibly in his evaluation of the candidates respective policies. However, plenty of liberal/progressive economists have reasonable disagreements concerning what constitutes the most prudent and appropriate government response to economic problems. Indeed, Brad Delong (along with several other economists) just last week expressed skepticism toward any of these stimulus packages.

by DPW 2008-01-14 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: not so fast

Thanks for the link to the ever so conservative Robert Reich, who the first Clinton administration ignored b/c he was too liberal.  

Seriously, it's good to read Reich's take.  That being said, I want to make clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with Krugman's analysis either.  He's entitled to his opinion, his a smart and honorable man, and may be right in the final analysis.  I don't know.  But we shouldn't simply accept EITHER of these guy's analysis at face value.  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: not so fast

The alternative energy initiative doesn't have to be exclusively long-term.  For example, one component of Edwards' plan is to

Support energy-efficient transportation options such as light rail, bus projects and parking lots near existing mass transit stations, prioritizing those projects that can get started within 90 days.

Hillary's plan, which is quite similar to Edwards', suggests

The immediate actions that could be part of a 2008 stimulus could include a crash weatherization program to cut home energy costs by up to 20% this winter

Both of these ideas would create jobs in the immediate near-term which would go a long way towards combating the increased unemployment we're currently seeing.

I'm generally skeptical of the power of tax cuts as a one-size-fits-all solution to slowdowns in the economy.  In the context of our current problems, you can certainly give money to people and thereby create some short-term consumer spending, but I really don't see what that will accomplish other than delaying the impending recession for a few months.  It doesn't seem to address any of the underlying defects in the economy.

Right now, the business community is extremely conservative regarding the prospects for investment and job creation, and the credit crunch plays a big part in this.  If we want to get at the unemployment problem, government is going to have to get directly involved in job creation, because it's not going to happen on its own in the present circumstances.  Creating those jobs in the alternative energy sector is right in line with what Al Gore has been proposing for years, and I'd love to see it happen.

I think putting the emphasis on tax cuts as a solution to the slowdown isn't horrible, and I certainly don't claim to know as much about economics as Robert Reich or the advisors on Obama's economic team, but to me it seems like a misplaced priority.

by Steve M 2008-01-14 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: not so fast

But isn't any stimulus package, per se, short term?  I agree with you that more structural changes are needed to the economy to get us back on the right track at the macro-level, but that's going to require a comprehensive economic plan that can only be passed by the next administration.  I don't have any objection to trying to include alt-energy investment during the current congress -- I think that's a great idea asap -- but it still seems like a strange focus for an economic stimulus plan to me.    

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: not so fast

But if the government helps jump-start infrastructure projects that can begin in the next 90 days, or immediate weatherization efforts that can help people this winter, that's both good energy policy and a short-term stimulus for the economy.

by Steve M 2008-01-14 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: not so fast

I suppose.  Although by that logic, we might as well incorporate each candidate's entire energy plan by reference.

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: not so fast

A few things in response. Even though Edwards and Clinton propose prioritizing certain initiatives that would create jobs, once you take into account the amount of time that it would take for any legislation to make it through congress, it's hard to imagine that anyone would receive employment as a result within 6 months from the time the legislation were introduced. That is not to say that such measures are ill-conceived, but I do think that a stimulus package aims for something more immediate. Which brings me to a second point. It is critical that any such legislation be passed very quickly. Including items that are more likely to receive resistance (and I imagine that alternative energy intiatives would be more controversial and a tax-cut for lower and middle class families) disrupts the ability to have an immmediate impact. Thirdly, recessions arise from myriad economic circumstances, so you're right to note that a small check doesn't solve all the problems. But, Obama's plan actually includes other initiatives, for instance enhancement of social insurance (unemployment) and financial aid to states hit hardest by decline in the housing market. The additional cash, however, is very important, as it gives an immediate boost to the economy and minimizes the depth of any recession.

by DPW 2008-01-14 07:00AM | 0 recs

Krugman is 100% correct here:

"For example, the Obama plan appears to contain none of the alternative energy initiatives that are in both the Edwards and Clinton proposals, and emphasizes across-the-board tax cuts over both aid to the hardest-hit families and help for state and local governments. I know that Mr. Obama's supporters hate to hear this, but he really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy."

Obama is really not a true progressive.  We have seen this time and time again, and this is another example of it. Krugman hits it right on the nose here.    Obama's "recession plan" relies on long-term tax cuts across the board, which shows where Obama's priorities lie.  There are no recession-targetted specific tax-cuts or helping hands for the poor, lower-middle class and unemployed (the hardest hit,) as they are contained in the Clinton $110 Billion recession stimulus package.   That alone shows a much less progressive candidate than the alternative, as my definition of progressivism involves a belief that helping poor and lower-income families MORE than anyone else furthers progressive values and also represents sound economic principles to stave off or blunt a looming recession:  A financial shot in the arm helping the poor is generally spent immediately on goods, services, thereby churning the economy like no other measure could in a classic "trickle up" reaction - increased goods and services demand translates into increased business, more orders, then more hiring.  Everybody benefits, including businesses, upper-income earners, owners of businesses.    The Clinton plan is the exact opposite of what a GOP plan would look like, tax-cuts for corporations and upper-income earners, with the theory being that a "trickle down effect" occurs.  The problem with that theory is that for the purposes of a quick economic stimulus there is too much loss.  Unlike the immediate spending (and resulting pumping of the economy) of virtually ALL of the money spent on tax cuts for the poor and lower-income individuals and families, economic benefits and tax cuts for the wealthy is not immediately pumped back into the economy.  A lot of it ends up overseas in investments, thereby ending up worthless as an economic stimulus.  Some of it ends up in savings, also not available to have an immediate effect on the economy.  The GOP tax ideas are poor stimuli for a lagging economy, because too much of it gets lost and ends up simply not stimulating.  

While Clinton with her stimulus package provides the exact opposite to GOP ideas, Obama's is somewhere in the middle.  He does not really offer a stimulus package, instead relies on long-term tax cuts (which go across the board, do not specifically give the poor and lower-income earners a helping hand) in the hope that they are enough to combat recessionary economic forces.   That shows less progressive thinking on Obama's part.  Not only is a specific special one-time "shot in the arm" measure needed to churn the economy, rather than reliance on already announced long-term tax policies, which would not have an immediate economy stimulating effect, but Obama also fails to understand and realize that tax-cuts and economic help specifically targetting the lower rung of the ladder provides a stimulating effect to the economy (because it generally is spent immediately) an across-the-board measures never could.   What Obama is proposing is simply not PROGRESSIVE.  

The other important aspect here is that it shows more of Obama's caving, triangulating from a purely emotional, "justice" type of viewpoint.  With Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy so lopsided in one direction and virtually completely disregarding the poor and low-income earners for all of his 7 years in office, it is just and prudent to see the next round of tax cutting measures benefit the other side of the coin disproportionally.   A wishy-washy reliance of across-the-board tax measures does not address the injustice done by the Bush administration and his accomplices in Congress, and a good progressive would see that as a foremost opportunity, even duty.

by georgep 2008-01-14 06:23AM | 0 recs

Dear lord, have you even looked at Obama's plan? The tax cuts are indeed targeted to assist lower-income folks as well as seniors. And, his ideas are focused specifically on providing the immediate "shot in the arm" you're looking for. Have a look: _foi8mve29.pdf.

Your rhetoric is really too much.

by DPW 2008-01-14 06:34AM | 0 recs

I looked at it.  I think you are simply deluding yourself.  I suppose in your mind Krugman is a complete loon who has no clue whatsoever about progressive economic ideals?  Yep, that makes a LOT of sense.    Spare me with this outrage stuff, ok?   Krugman is a well respected economic expert, for crying out loud, perhaps THE most respected, from a progressive point of view.   In contrast, you are a fierce Obama supporter.  Of course to you everything the guy does oozes competence, righteousness, etc.    I think if I have a choice whether to believe KRUGMAN when it comes to progressive policies or an anonymous poster on a blog who has defended Obama every step of the way, it is not really a choice.  

by georgep 2008-01-14 06:51AM | 0 recs

Very big of you to just assume I think Krugman is a loon. I didn't say anything like that. I think Krugman deserves enormous credit and praise for his popularization of economics. I don't like his op-eds so much, but that has more to do with tone than substance (and I felt this way well before Obama was even a candidate).

For some reason, you insist on relying completely on Krugman's opinion rather than analyzing the plans themselves--or even consulting other reviews of the respective plans. That's why I called you out. Your comment suggested to me that you hadn't even looked at the Obama package. Contrary to your claims, his plan is targeted toward lower and middle-class families, and specifically addresses seniors collecting social security. It also emphasizes immediate assistance, though you imply otherwise. Finally, it proposes 10 billion in relief to states hit hardest by the housing crisis; a 10 billion dollar fund to help families avoid foreclosure; and expansion and extension of unemployment insurance. To read your comment, though, you would think that Obama was proposing corporate giveaways, tax-cuts for millionaires, and whatever else Bush fantasizes about.

It was, to use your favorite term, "laughable."

by DPW 2008-01-14 07:13AM | 0 recs

Utterly ridiculous.  Can you stop being so incredibly touchy and start discussing in earnest?

Where did I claim that "Obama was proposing corporate giveaways, tax-cuts for millionaires, and whatever else Bush fantasizes about"?    Do you even READ what you respond to on blogs?  I clearly stated that Obama is somewhere in the middle between Bush's corporate tax measures/millionaire goodies and Clinton's more pronounced low-income helping hand.   That is a far cry from the bizarre characterization of my comments you offer here.     Look REALISTICALLY at the two plans, side by side.  Clinton offers more $ in housing relief, more immediate gives to the poor/unemployed than Obama.  I never claimed that Obama does NOTHING for the poor and low-income earners, just not as much, not as lopsided, as Clinton.

Thus, Krugman's comment here is not what you make it out to be:

"....his stimulus proposal is similar to those of the other Democratic candidates, but tilted to the right.

"....emphasizes across-the-board tax cuts over both aid to the hardest-hit families and help for state and local governments. I know that Mr. Obama's supporters hate to hear this, but he really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy."

He (and I) don't imply that Obama is Bush on taxes.  Just that he relies less on help for the poor, more on across the board measures.  It is a correct assessment, Krugman did not make this up.  The monies are allocated less lopsided towards the poor, which is a simple fact when you look at the numbers.  Thus, Obama's plan is simply less progressive.  

by georgep 2008-01-14 07:36AM | 0 recs

His tax cuts aren't across the board. They are for lower and middle-class people, basically offsetting the payroll tax on the first $8100. That is specifically helpful to the poor, as well as others who are strapped. Also, his stimulus package makes most of this immediately available so that folks don't have to wait for a tax refund. This is the shot in the arm that you cheer in your original post. Then you cite Krugman's cricism of Obama making this a priority. I sense some dissonance on your part here.

Moreover, he devotes 10 million to help those hit hardest by the housing crisis, but specifically excludes speculators and investors. Again, the idea is to target families hit hardest by the mortgage crisis. Also, he does commit 10 billion to state and local governments hit hardest by current economic circumstances. So, I don't see the lack of concern for these objectives that your boldfaced words from Krugman seem to suggest.

But, really, reread your original comment. It's dripping with bad-faith suggestions that Obama doesn't really care enough about the poor and less wealthy. By the way, I don't recall a specific poverty plan from Clinton, although both Edwards and Obama proposed bold (though considerably different) plans for combating poverty.

by DPW 2008-01-14 08:25AM | 0 recs

Well, I disagree.  There was nothing bad-faith about my contention.  I looked at Obama's plan and have to agree with Krugman that it is simply not progressive.  I assume Krugman looked at it as well, did not just write garbage for the heck of it.    My suggestion in the original post was that Obama is somewhere in the middle on this, therefore by definition not really progressive.  Hillary's recession plan includes more money spent on the poor and lower-income earners, when you look at the numbers.   Word from the Obama campaign was similarly that they would rely on already existing plans, and the plan he did come up with falls somewhat short of what the others are proposing (and what is needed, IMO.)

It is like the discussion abot his health-care proposal, which many (including Ezra Klein, an health-care expert and a progressive to boot) regard as weaker from a progressive point of view than either Clinton's or Edwards'.     Obama supporters don't appear to agree, so the discussion usually ends up going in circles.  I see the same thing happening here.    

by georgep 2008-01-14 01:57PM | 0 recs
both Clinton and Edwards know

that you win over the swing vote when you address people's real problems.  They seem to be both going for the same segment of the electorate, the Reagan democrats who are suffering in this economy.  Barack seems to be playing republican lite and hoping independents like his rhetoric and don't find his solutions too offensive.

by MollieBradford 2008-01-14 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Obama supporters should thank Krugman. What Krugman doesn't realize is, he's actually HELPING Obama by accusing Obama of being 'LESS LIBERAL' than Hillary and Edwards. During the General Election this will HELP OBAMA with independents and republican voters.

Coonsey's View

by coonbug 2008-01-14 06:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Well, that's not what most Obama supporters take away from these kind of exchanges.  For most of us, the fact that Obama is progressive is a good thing.

I will note, however, that MYDD is an interesting place since in the last two weeks I've seen scores of diaries explaining that Obama cannot possibly win b/c (1) he's not progressive at all; and (2) b/c he is way too progressive and out of the mainstream.  I think the Clinton supporters should really pick one of those two themes rather than using both at the same time.  Might be more effective.

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 06:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

I have consistently stated that Obama is not really a progressive, and I have offered ample proof.  This is just ONE of many, many indicators.  Some are swept up in the rhetoric of HOPE, but where are the specifics in the rhetoric?  Everytime I hear Obama speak (like in his NH speech) there is sweep, little, if any meat.   I think some progressives want to read into Obama's rhetoric progressivism, because his rhetoric is so open-ended and non-specific that one can read almost anything into what he is saying.   But, when you look closer, you just don't see it.  

BTW, I see a bunch of Obama supporters (like this one here) actually glad, a good thing, that Obama may not be regarded as a progressive.  What more proof do you need that Obama offers few specifics, thereby causing his own supporters to be confused whether he is a progressive or a centrist (with many finding that being a centrist would help Obama in the GE anyway.)

by georgep 2008-01-14 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Your "proof" is quite unavailing to many of us and largely consists of small differences on the edges of the candidate's white papers.  None of which, by the way, will ever get passed.  Similarly, your proof ignores the fact that Hillary has consistently described an HRC administration as "centrist" and "pragmatic," rather than progressive.

On a side note, are you one of the paid HRC bloggers?  I'm curious, b/c you completely vanished from MYDD after the Iowa loss.  Thought funding might have been cut back at that point.  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Your "explanation" is flimsy and makes little sense, given that Obama's progressive ranking is particularly poor when the "chips are down," meaning when a particular vote in the Senate was very, very close (within just 10 votes of passage.)  In that measure (a far cry from the "ever get passed" rhetoric you offer here) he ranks an ultra-low 44th out of 49 Democratic Senators.  

BTW, are you one of those paid Obama bloggers we have heard about?  You disappeared after the NH loss completely, after all.  

by georgep 2008-01-14 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Actually, no I didn't.  Take a look at my comments -- I had nice things to say about Clinton's impressive victory.  

As far as Obama's rankings go, if I remember correctly the biggest knock against him is his support for a couple of GWB's judicial nominees.  Since I agree with Obama (and Russ Feingold) that Presidents should receive significant discretion in their nominations, that's not particularly troubling to me.  Wanna give me particular examples of where Clinton VOTED in a more progressive manner than Obama?  

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

Before we go into actual voting record comparisons (a larger undertaking I would not be averse to tackle) let's go this one by one.  I just pointed out to you that Obama ranks particularly low when it comes to his voting records "when the chips are down."  That means, those votes that are very, very close, could go either way.  You stated that most of these votes we are talking about here would never even make it through anyway, but that is of course not the case with those very close votes (within 10 votes of a tie) I was referencing here.    What that says is that the knock on Obama from his Senate run in IL (voted present many times when he could have voted an assertive YAY or NAY on issues important to progressives) appears to have carried over to the Senate, that when the road hits the rubber, Obama's progressiveness takes a bit of a backseat to pragmatism.  I am not faulting him for such political calculations (with the presidency in sight) and as you can tell from other Obama poster's comments, many actually want him to be "less liberal" and less progressive to boost his chances in a prospective GE season.  I just point out the fallacy when I read "Obama is the most progressive candidate."    

by georgep 2008-01-14 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Responding to Recession

First of all, my reference to things that were never going to get passed was about the campaigns' respective white papers.  So you are simply wrong about what my point was.  

If you want to discuss anything else, show me specific votes where Hillary was more "progressive" than Obama.  Unless I'm mistaken, there won't be many.  Even in PP, which in my opinion overstates judicial confirmation votes (and filibuster votes), the variation between Obama and Clinton is marginal at best.  You can cite rankings, but if the variation between 10-20 senators is tiny that reallly means nothing.    

by HSTruman 2008-01-14 04:37PM | 0 recs


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